More On What Hamas Did And Didn’t Say

I explained yesterday how the media was running with a non-story which was being twisted to create the illusion that Israel’s sweep

An IDF photo of the three Israelis murdered in June

An IDF photo of the three Israelis murdered in June

through the West Bank in June after the murders of three Israeli youths was justified. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intentionally seized upon that horrific crime in order to strike a blow at Hamas to some extent but mostly at the new Palestinian unity government. The story was based on the words of Salech al-Aruri, Hamas’ lead representative in Turkey, who had been applauding the despicable act since it occurred.

A few other folks have been trying to correct the false story in the mainstream media, but it’s obviously an uphill battle. Few of Netanyahu’s defenders seem to have noticed that Israeli officials have remained thoroughly silent on this story. You’d think, would you not, that if it were what was being portrayed – that there is now “proof” that Hamas was behind the murders all along – Netanyahu would be crowing in the same hubris-filled manner that he did when one of the ceasefires was broken over a battle in a Gaza tunnel near Rafah. Yet the only sound is that of the proverbial crickets chirping. Continue reading

A classic example of media distortion

I had to point this one out to my readers, even though it has nothing to do with the Middle East.

I just received an e-mail news alert from the Washington Post. The headline reads: “News Alert: U.S. deficit to top $1 trillion for 4th year in a row.”

Sounds like that bungling president is not handling our economy very well, doesn’t it?

But then, I read the story.

It starts off by echoing the headline, but then comes to the relevant facts:

The federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday in a report that predicts a nearly $1.1 trillion gap between government spending and tax collections for 2012.

That figure is the smallest – both in nominal terms and as a percentage of the economy – since the Great Recession began taking a heavy toll on the federal budget in 2009.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit would continue to fall, dropping sharply in 2013 and throughout the remainder of the decade if policymakers follow through with major changes in both tax policy and government spending now on the books.

So, actually, Obama has been reducing the deficit despite the need for a massive amount of funds to bail out the many “too big to fail” financial institutions and for job creation. But to discover that rather pertinent fact, one has to read past both the headline and the first paragraph, something most readers don’t do.

The Washington Post has been steadily moving to the right for years, so this comes as no surprise. But as an object lesson in how mainstream media manages to report the facts, without lying, while at the same time completely misinforming its readers, I don’t think you’d find a starker example.

UPDATE: Turns out, the Post actually changed the lede in the article. It was reported on at the bsom blog here.

Jeff Goldberg vs Ma’an News: Media Bias Obsession

In the latter part of the 20th century, trying to uncover bias became all the rage. Once it was acknowledged that news, history, academic papers, and all sorts of information sources reflected the inherent bias of the author, de-construction became a full-time job.

As with most such things, it got taken to an extreme. The result, in its worst form, was the ability of a right wing, massively funded news network to call itself “fair and balanced” as juxtaposed against an allegedly liberal media.

Nowhere is this dissection of alleged bias more visible than in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Both sides complain endlessly about the bias against them in media and academia. And both sides are right, to some extent. One should, indeed, read a history book or news report with a consciousness about who is writing it and what the publication that is dispersing it might have invested in it. If you do that, there is only a very small, and easily spotted, amount of material that needs to be summarily dismissed.

Not everything written by a Jew who supports Israel is necessarily false or misleading, or that everything written by an Arab is false or misleading in the opposite direction.

There are huge strains of this on both sides: on the pro-Palestinian side, we have the “Zionist-controlled media” canard, as well as more serious examinations that look at how a close US ally might be given quite a few breaks in the media. On the “pro-Israel” side there is a virtual industry (populated by such well-heeled organizations as CAMERA and Palestinian Media Watch [PMW]) built around it.

In my experience – and I have been engaged in media and historical analysis on this issue since I was an undergraduate student – most serious sources, with a few glaring exceptions, either legitimately strive for objectivity or make their political agenda clear. Anyone looking for a realistic picture should, in this or any other arena, gather their information from a variety of sources. Continue reading

The New York Times Shows Its Poor Journalistic Standards

Even when the New York Times gets it right, they get it wrong.

Democracy in the bed under the about-to-be-extinguished light of journalism

On February 3, the Times printed an article about Jewish Voice for Peace, and high time it was. Some will think my past association with JVP is coloring my view here, but I do not say it was high time because of my admitted affection for the group, but rather because the simple fact is that they are a national, impactful and important organization. Other such groups are reported on, and JVP’s remarkable growth has earned it this moment in the spotlight, that’s all. But the Times seems to have had second thoughts.

The article was not an endorsement nor did it wave a banner for the group. It gave plenty of space to JVP’s detractors. It is impossible to see where the article fails to meet the highest standard of journalism. Yet on February 11, a full eight days after the piece appeared, the Times felt compelled to add the following editorial note:

An article last Friday described the group Jewish Voice for Peace, whose support for antigovernment protests in Egypt has led to tensions among some Jews in the Bay Area. After the article was published, editors learned that one of the two writers, Daniel Ming, had been active in pro-Palestinian rallies. Such involvement in a public cause related to The Times’s news coverage is at odds with the paper’s journalistic standards; if editors had known of Mr. Ming’s activities, he would not have been allowed to write the article.

I’d be curious to find out if the Times also so vets anyone who writes about abortion, or same-gender marriage, or guns, or, for that matter, the “free market.” Now a journalist’s political views, rather than the content or the quality of his work are the issue? Continue reading